Want a quick day trip to the beach, but don’t want to fight Ocean City traffic? Try Aquia Landing Park, northern Virginia’s best kept little secret just 40 miles south of D.C. You’ll not only beat the heat, but you’ll also get a little history lesson at the same time. Check it out!

Photo: Camp Atterbury Joint Man via Flickr

This is not the place to nap.
This beautiful spot on a peninsula where the Potomac River and Aquia Creek meet features a quarter mile of riverside beach where you can sunbathe and swim, fish, picnic, and kayak. You’ll enjoy regular sightings of Blue Heron and other marsh birds, and maybe even a Bald Eagle if you’re lucky. You can also watch the parade of colorful boats passing by on their way up and down the Potomac.

Photo: Mitch A. via Yelp

Steeped in history.
The park and adjacent bluff is an important heritage area to the
Patawomack Native American Tribe, the famous home clan of Pocahontas. In the 1800s it was the end of the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad line, a key transportation point between D.C. and Richmond, Va. Here, passengers took steamboats up the Potomac to Washington, D.C. It was the first place to see naval fire during the Civil War, and was an important stop on the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. Henry “Box” Brown, Ellen and William Craft, and John Washington were among the 10,000 enslaved people who traveled through Aquia Landing on their escape route to freedom.

Photo: Allan Chatto via Flickr

The park has two picnic shelters for rent along with clean restrooms and free parking. While you can enjoy plenty of swimming here, there is no lifeguard on duty.

2846 Brooke Rd. (Stafford, Va)
Open: 8 a.m. to dusk
Online: va-staffordcountyparksandrec.civicplus.com

Have you ever checked out Aquia Landing? Tell us about it in the comments below. 

–Jamy Bond